Saturday, May 30, 2015

Winter Light - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Winter Light" Colored Pencil

On a chilly winter evening, a pair of ponderosa pine are glowing from the last bit of twilight. As the sun sets, Bergen Peak turns solemn and casts a shadow across the ochre meadow.

Capturing the simple scene is a tranquil form of study. Brown grasses swirl across the foreground’s surface just like waves in the nearby watercourse.

The size, shape and personality are scrutinized while rendered carefully with subtle shades of green. Not every needle is necessary, only the essential character is examined.

The present position is cold, gloomy and dark but just over the rise, everything is bathed in a warm, golden light. Stay on the trail to learn the correct answer.

When it comes to studying under Mother Nature, there’s no need for grades. You’ll soon discover that everything out here is either pass or fail.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mount Moran - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Mount Moran" Colored Pencil

On a sunny, summer morning in the Tetons, Mount Moran is a massive monolith that’s been exiled to the northern front. Isolated from the rest of the range, the remote mountain is extremely inaccessible and virtually unclimbable.

The chilling buttress is violet by nature but on this day a golden light infuses the scene with an inviting warmth that tempts the viewer to linger. There are no foothills to soften the blow as the massif rises suddenly out of a decorative forest of pine.

The placid peak deserves a dramatic portrait so crisp highlights and strong shadows define its chiseled features. Great glaciers have gouged its profile and relinquished eternal snowfields that glisten white all year long.

The serene mountain is named after artist Thomas Moran, who accompanied survey expeditions into the Rockies during the 1800s. Moran documented the extraordinary landscape of the American West through drawings, paintings and prints.

A disciple of J. M. W. Turner, Moran’s masterpieces eloquently express the light and beauty of our nation’s early frontier. When his enormous canvases were viewed by the fine folks back East, his work caused a sensation.

There is no doubt that Moran’s pictures were influential in the government’s decision to transform the Yellowstone region into America’s first national park. Awesome, austere and artistic, Mount Moran is a memorable tribute to one of my favorite artists.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Glacier Gorge - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Glacier Gorge" Colored Pencil

Sculpted in rock by wind and ice, Glacier Gorge is a dramatic dreamscape. The rocky ravine is renowned for its rugged peaks, raging waterfalls and remote lakes. This composition depicts the unforgettable entry into that complicated chasm where morning sun creates strong contrast and dark shadows.

Sharp clouds are settled in a blended-blue sky. The violet backdrop of rocky mountains is capped by the square summit of Longs Peak. Gashed by Glacier Creek, the canyon walls are purple and pink. The rush of turquoise water streams down from Mills Lake and exits the scene.

Luckily, a rock ledge in the foreground lures the viewer back in by promising a perfect overlook. So close to the tundra, the shapes and sizes of weather-beaten trees becomes surreal. Complying with a risky intent, the pine-forest-passage is expressed through subtle insinuation.

Still stored in the mind, a hazy memory from last summer was guided by an unsure left hand. After a winter in hibernation, it’s time to wake from slumber. Although imagination is an option, the search for subject matter continues. So for now, it’s back to the drawing board.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Silverton Colorado - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Silverton Colorado" Colored Pencil

Silverton, Colorado sits in a deep valley enclosed by enormous mountains. Presiding over the highest district in the United States, the San Juan County Courthouse is seated just above cement creek. Clear and cold, the spring runoff rushes over a rocky creek bed and out of the foreground.

Stretching ever skyward, the stately structure bears a striking resemblance to the silvery peaks that surround it. With an air of unnatural perfection, a grouping of cylindrical pine trees stands at attention. A rickety bridge is a surprisingly sturdy link between architecture and the alpine tundra.

The rustic buildings are as colorful as the town's storied past. Silverton is a former mining camp that was characterized by a rough and rowdy bunch. This melting-pot of personalities partook in a variety of unseemly activities, such as drinking, gambling, prostitution and robbery to name a few.

Distinguished by turbulent weather and long, severe winters, surviving in such a harsh environment requires a hardy soul. At such an extreme elevation, while strolling in the middle of smokey-blue mountains, the sensitive searcher can't help but absorb this undeniable spirit of the San Juans.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spring Snow - A Monochrome Maelstrom

Spring Snowstorm

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
~ Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Spring began with a kaleidoscope of bright colors but scarcely into the new season and a surprise snowstorm converted the saturated scenery to grayscale. Moist flakes were dumped for days and eventually exceeded three feet.

The monochrome maelstrom brought much needed moisture to the mountains and composed a magnificent landscape etched in black and white. Pale peaks melted into a misty atmosphere while the forest featured vertical patterns of textured trees.

Traversing across Elk Meadow, the heart-pounding hike was a recurring lesson in faith and patience. Even after a dreary Sunday evening spent trudging through deep snow, it is still human nature to always find fresh cause for optimism.

A surprise snowstorm

The scenery was converted to grayscale

Three feet of snow

A monochrome maelstrom

Much needed moisture

A landscape etched in black and white

Peaks melted into the atmosphere

Vertical patterns of textured trees

Fresh cause for optimism